The complete recorded works of St. Louis MO's funniest band that barely existed, Noises Dad Makes self-described "They Might Be Giants on a $1.98 Budget" sound stumbles through genres ranging from Rock to Country to Calypso to Dixieland, covering topics ranging from childhood anxiety to Masonic time travel. Featuring former and current members of Southern Culture on the Skids, Killer Filler, Moontucky Risin, The Sun Sawed in 1/2, La Fad, Enormous Richard, and The Ken Case Group.
A review from St Louis' "Hometown Noise" (aka the Noisy Paper)
How can you not love a group that does an epic 6-minute song about...soybeans? How can you not be tickled by a slobbish but amusing number called "Drunk at the VP Fair", with memorable lyrics like: "It gets so crowded/it's hard to move anywhere/Ya' sweat from the heat/And ya stink from the beer/But a Hoop-De-Hoop-De-Hoo!/Baby, I don't care/I'm gettin' drunk down at the VP Fair" Even if this song predates the name change of that annual tribute to excess to "Fair St. Louis", It shows that the gents in Noises Dad Makes have a grand sense of humor, and they're not going to demand too much heavy thinkin' from you. As a result, this disc, "All You Can Eat", turns out to be a real low-key pleasure.
In the CD sleeve, singer-songwriter Chris Bess tells us that NDM "was created as a pact between myself and bassist Jay Lauterwasser to start a band that wasn't afraid to write silly songs and just have fun," The band made a five-song demo tape in 1996 which sold out quickly, and played about a dozen gigs. But though they broke up shortly thereafter, there was an impetus to re-release this material a few years later in remixed, remastered form. The group had such a blast doing so, they recorded another half-dozen new songs, making enough material for a full CD. The results are mixed, but there's enough good-natured goofiness and musical pleasantry to make this a worthy purchase.
I was smiling in the opening minutes of "Telsa Song" after hearing Chris Bess sing: "People should have for respect for Tesla/No not the band--the man" Bess has a pleasant, unassuming voice which allows the humor of the material to come through naturally. This little history of electricity is charming--can you name any other song that praises the invention of the Telsa coil? Instrumentation also surprises at times; on "Drive-Thru Man", Bess plays accordion, and Ross Bell is credited on "Cup Muted Trumpet". A highlight of the CD is "Stuck at the Children's table" which was co-written by Bess, Andrew Alleman, Fred Friction, and Mark Stephens. This is a "Minnie the Moocher" styled number about a youngster frustrated at dinner because he's not allowed to dine with the adults. Over a finger snappin' beat and Bell's "Miles Davis Trumpet", the lyrics go: "I'm twelve years old/Almost a man/I wanna talk about Nine Inch Nails/While all the kids around me/Discuss Sesame Street/And the virtues of Barney's pals." It sounds like kids singing on the "Woah-Oh" chorus, and the whole song is goofily endearing. So is "Soybeans", which you'll try to resist at first--but I doubt you'll succeed. Showcasing and infectious Wurlitzer piano sound, periodic mariachi breaks on the chorus, and Lauterwasser's nice fretless bass work, this song tells you all you need to know about soybeans. On one of the verses, there's a hilarious call and response (the "response" emanating from a crew of barroom dorks, apparently): "Cook 'em for a while for a drink you can get in a bar"/(Dorks): "Glub Glub Glub Glub Glub"/"Cook 'em even longer make the bumper for the back of your car"/(Dorks):"Vroom Vroom Vroom Vroom Vroom!" Of all the six-minute epics I've heard about soybeans, well, this is easily the best. And the fun continues with the aforementioned VP Fair song, in which we get a farting sousaphone and "lead hoop-de-hoos by Sunyatta Marshall"to help grace the tale of inebriated idiots at St. Louis's most publicized summer event.
The group name-drops OT Hodge and Shop & Save, and they play with enthusiasm throughout. The music is non-abrasive, which helps enormously, and everything is presented in a sort of tossed-off manner that makes the little surprises stand out. The lyric booklet is one the friendliest and most detailed that I've seen lately.
So kudos to Noises Dad Makes fro making the most of what is, after all, a small-scale musical event in the local scheme of things. These guys made me smile a great deal, and I'm kinda sorry they aren't around to perform anymore.